When was the last time you were excited about a new product? Maybe you heard about it on Twitter and then read some reviews online. You compared prices and made the purchase.
It feels almost quaint to think product launch communications used to be all about press releases and media contacts. We’ve grown used to being empowered consumers and we aren’t looking back.
With new channels giving companies more ways to reach stakeholders, increased access to information and the ability to compare products, and social media getting stakeholders heard in large numbers, companies are feeling a loss of power to stakeholders that has big implications for product launch communications.
As we’ve been talking to members and thinking about communicators’ role in product launch, we’ve identified three primary stages. To help us think about what guidance CEC can provide to best support our members, we’ve broken down the resource level, activities, and challenges at each phase.
Stages of Product Launch Communication
- Proportion of Comms Involvement: 10%
- Key Activities: At this stage, Communications role is mostly to soak it all in to get a good picture of what you’re going to be working with down the road. Your goal is to build understanding of product positioning, challenges, risks, and tangential stories that will influence the way you talk about the product later.
- Challenge: Knowing what to pay attention to and question in planning meetings, and understanding how it will influence communication about the product later on.
- Question for You: What’s hard about getting business partners to involve you at this stage?
- Proportion of Comms Involvement: 65%
- Key Activities: This is when the bulk of Comms’ work happens. You review market trends, media lists, influencers, and stakeholder groups to prepare launch communications (i.e. press releases, social media campaigns, blog posts, internal announcements). Depending on the specific product, you may also start to build buzz about the launch toward the end of this stage.
- Challenge: Figuring out how to differentiate the product, getting the right timing of market seeding, and coping with uncertainty about launch timing.
- Question for You: How do you embed uncertainty about timing into your launch plans?
- Proportion of Comms Involvement: 25%
- Key Activities: At this stage, you’re hitting the proverbial or literal ‘send’ button on everything you prepared during pre-launch. You reach out directly to top media sources and hold launch events. You track feedback from key stakeholder groups on an ongoing basis and respond as appropriate.
- Challenge: Knowing which stakeholder feedback to pay attention to and engage with after the launch.
- Question for You: How do you feed insights from stakeholder feedback to business partners?
So, what do you think? Does this sound like the right distributions of activities? How are you dealing with these (or other) challenges? We’d love to get your perspective! Leave a comment or e-mail me at email@example.com.
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